"Drop your pride and ask for forgiveness”- Judges tell jailed lawyer Mabirizi

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The Court of Appeal has advised controversial lawyer Male Mabirizi to drop his pride and seek forgiveness from Justice Musa Ssekaana who sent him to Luzira  to serve 18 months imprisonment for contempt of court.

High Court’s Justice Ssekaana earlier this year ordered the arrest of Mabirizi to serve an 18month jail term over his continued contemptuous social media posts against the judge and the judiciary at large.

Having been jailed, Mabirizi filed applications to the Court of Appeal seeking to have him released from prison.

However, a panel of three justices of the Court of Appeal including Muzamiru Mutangula Kibeedi, Irene Mulyagonja and Eva Luswata dismissed the applications but also advised Mabirizi to drop his pride and apologise to Justice Ssekaana but also seek pardon.

“The application the is dismissed and the contemnor(Mabirizi) will continue to stay in prison until further orders from a court with competent jurisdiction,” the judges ruled.

Quoting decisions by the High Court and Supreme Court in India, the judges of the Ugandan Court of Appeal said no advocate who has been found guilty of contempt of court shall be permitted to appear or plead in any court unless they have apologized.

"We therefore came to the conclusion that criminal contemnors though pardonable cannot be purged. Since convictions and sentences resulting from criminal contempt are final, the contemnor cannot purge his contempt by simply paying a fine however large.  However the contemnor may apologize to the Court of which he or she was found to be in contempt but such apology must be genuine, signifying that the contemnor is truly contrite,” said the Justices.

“The contemnor(Mabirizi) is also free to exercise his right to seek the  pardon of the court that committed him to prison in respect to the contempts for which he was committed.”

Numerous applications

The three justices of the Court of Appeal said that by the look of things, it appears as if Mabirizi’s numerous applications are meant to intimidate government or exert pressure on the Attorney General to have the lawyer released from prison.

They in unison agreed that there is no any other law through which Mabirizi  can be released from jail before his  undeveloped   appeal other than applying for bail as he waits for his appeal.

"We are also if the view that the filing of numerous applications where no appeal has been filed in this court amounts to an abuse of Court process. The applications are similar to each other, all seeking same order though using different terms in the various applications for the release of the contemnor from prison before the filing and hearing of his appeal in this court.”

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